Book Title: Tell Me Three Things (Standalone) Author: Julie Buxbaum Number of pages: 336
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– Story is narrated via prose, email, and texts; there’s more witty banter in the early parts of the book than later
– The backdrop to this story features a grab bag of standard archetypes (e.g. popular jock, the broodster, the mean girl) under the veil of a privileged school setting. Academics are not passed off as unimportant
– Love polygon is warranted due to the anonymity of the true ship. However, the romance is self-fulfilling as most suitors never feel “right” for the protagonist
I’ll tell you more than three things…
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Tell Me Three Things from Chapters Indigo at their Teen Summer Preview Event.
Let me Tell You Three Things:
(1) This book made me chuckle. Not “LOL”-level stuff but I smiled stupidly on public transit reading this. So there’s that.
(2) For the most part, it features a self-fulfilling romance where most of the suitors don’t ever feel “right” for Jessie — so you’re really only left with one choice — which makes the entire mystery kinda moot.
(3) The “anonymous” angel/devil in disguise pushing the protagonist along is a stylistic storytelling format which seems to be a popular format in YA lit — and it’s something that made this book extremely easy and quick to read.
Let me Tell You [some other] Three Things:
(1) Within the realms of the posh and privileged schooling, every single high school trope you can think of probably exists in this story and remains a dissonant force compelling the protagonist to keep herself afloat.
(2) By extension of the above point, what’s most important is that even though this book takes place in a school setting, it doesn’t dismiss the importance of academics. While it mainly features literature, the responsibility in studying is highlighted as something that has to be worked towards and isn’t relegated as some afterthought; that you can have teenage/coming-of-age shenanigans within the confines of succeeding academically.
(3) The family dynamics in being raised by a single parent shifting to having step parents is an aspect that seemed unjustifiably optimistic. There just wasn’t enough grit and nuance to it [for my tastes] is all.
Can’t forget to Tell You These Three Things:
(1) There’s a natural regression of wittiness that comes with the increasing familiarity to the suspected love interest. It’s a shame because the early parts of bantering was pretty good; especially when the protagonist is unabashedly herself in having to “Sherlock the shit out of this” (which she really doesn’t follow through). Perhaps this comes with the territory of love and opening up (re showcasing “deeper” emotions as a replacement for…fun?).
(2) This book features emails/texts as a narrative vehicle, and while it does allow seamless transitions in pacing, what becomes disregarded is the cautionary measures that ought to be associated with the unknowns. This tone being set that you can gallant through the abyss of the Internet with some random person who says they know what you look like (and actually begin describing your day to day) is something that’s taken too lightly. I mean…what if this person was a murderer? That’s the real story here. It’s hella whack when she turns all Tinder flirty mode despite this person detailing your life surroundings verbatim.
(3) This is a personal tick than anything but the show versus telling of self awareness is quite a doozy. The protagonist mentions her difficulties between family and friends but rarely (if ever) demonstrates empathy towards issues that aren’t hers alone. The “me” mentality is strong in this one.
And lastly, the characters Tell Me Three Things:
(1) You have your standard character archetypes displayed: the cool types, the brooding types, the popular types, the mean [girl] types, every single type.
(2) Love polygons are fair game in this story due to the anonymity of the love interest. That being said, the instalust (re “protagonist = cool girl”) only promoted unnecessary drama (i.e. breakups).
(3) There was no backstory as to how the Anonymous character got the protagonists email (highly unlikely he would have fucking guessed “Jesster567@gmail.com” over other popular variants like “Jesster123” or the elusive “Jesster4567”) — if there was then it went over my head.
(I had to speak about the characters in the most general way ever because saying too much would spoil the fun of the story. Otherwise, the character development as a whole was handled well.)
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum is an effortless read clearly fit for the romantic comedy label. While it does overlook the stranger dangers of befriending any enigmatic unknown via the Internet, the endgame revelations were palatable enough to offer a comforting, smile-worthy future to a story full of uncertainty,
So at the end of the day, I’m a fucking black sheep again. EVERYONE seemed to enjoy this book and while it had it’s moments that were good, I can’t seem shake off all those little issues gnawing at my brain. But if you’re an avid contemporary reader, you’ll probably appreciate this story a lot more than I did. So there’s that.